The eighth annual Data Protection Day has seen numerous data protection bodies and political bigwigs urge firms to ensure the data they create, collect and store is well protected as the push for new data laws continues.
Vice president for the Digital Agenda in the European Commission (EC), Neelie Kroes, said in a blog post that the occasion was a good time to take stock of how issues of data protection were rapidly changing.
"Protecting personal data remains an important principle and right - but in a fast-changing technological reality. When the EU agreed its current Data Protection Directive in 1995, the internet was just coming onto the horizon, and Mark Zuckerberg was just 11," she wrote.
"Since then, the world has changed. Never have the opportunities of data been so apparent - nor the importance of protecting against its misuse."
Kroes reiterated calls for new and improved data protection legislation, especially in the light of recent spying revelations from the US.
"When people think of privacy they - rightly - think of the recent revelations of the scale of online spying. That reminds us all how serious this issue is, and how important it is to get our response right," she said.
"Agreeing on the data protection reform proposed by the Commission in 2012 is vital to boost confidence and protection, and make the rules relevant in a modern, technological era. That remains a priority."
Combating the threats to data is no easy task, but talking to V3, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) group manager for technology, Simon Rice, said there are some basic but important steps firms can take.
"Data storage issues around laptops, USBs, mobiles and tablets features heavily in our work and in many cases it could easily be avoided if data was encrypted. It's not the be all and end all, but it is a good first step," he said.
Rice added that education and user awareness is also vital. "You need to explain to employees what the risks are of using devices for storing work data or working from home and how they are accessing data."
New research published by the ICO to mark Data Protection Day focused on the health sector, with a mixed set of results for how GP practices meet their data protection obligations.
It found that most surgeries had good data protection policies and awareness of issues around security and patient confidentiality. However, some issues were raised around the need to report data breaches and unrestricted internet access within surgeries.
The EC is hoping that its proposed reforms will aid data protection efforts by making it easier for businesses to operate under EU law, as Viviane Reding, EC justice commissioner, outlined in a speech.
"The regulation will establish a 'one-stop-shop' for businesses: companies will only have to deal with one single supervisory authority, not 28, making it simpler and cheaper for companies to do business in the EU; and easier, swifter and more efficient for citizens to get their personal data protected," she said.
To underline the importance of data protection, the EC also produced a rather eye-catching video to try and get people to think about their data in a new light.
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